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Animal Cruelty Is Officially A Federal Crime

Animal cruelty has become a growing problem in this country. Whether it be blatant abuse that comes from the world of illegal pit bull fighting rings, parents dropping their puppy Christmas gifts off at shelters after they turn into an actual dog, or leaving dogs out in the cold during winter because they have a dog house, more people are just getting pets for the sake of getting them and not viewing them as an actual responsibility and companion. When animals end up in kill shelters, they’re more likely to end up in the wrong hands, as the background check process isn’t as extensive, and more animals are left to be killed or subject to abusive behavior, when all they want is a loving home and owner. 

Luckily, this month the government is making more moves to ensure that the animals who do find themselves in a domestic home, aren’t abused and are federally protected from those horrors. This past Monday President Donald Trump signed a bill that states animal cruelty is now a federal crime, and will be punishable as such. 

The specific act is titled the “PACT Act,” which stands for the “Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.” According to the official bill, the act itself is a “bipartisan initiative that bans the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impalement or other serious harm to living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians. The law also bans ‘animal crush videos,’ meaning any photograph, motion picture film, video or digital recording or electronic image that depicts animal cruelty.”

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The penalty for violating this new federal law will be a hefty fine, decided based on the specifics of each case, up to seven years in federal prison, or potentially both. The National Public Radio reported that the initial bill was introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch and Vern Buchanan of Florida. The bill was pushed to vote through the senate thanks to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania. 

Animal cruelty has been an ongoing and growing issue within this country. America already has a whole series of individual state laws against animal cruelty and torture, however, without federal legislation giving a general basis and guideline for these laws, it’s become increasingly more difficult to prosecute specific cases without any major point of reference. 

“PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.

“I’m grateful to see the PACT Act finally signed into law. The barbaric torture of animals has no place in a civilized society and should be a crime — and thanks to this new law, now it is. Senator Toomey and I worked together for years to ensure that this kind of despicable torture of animals is forbidden for good, Senator Blumenthal said.

Many individuals who worked on this bill and helped sign it into legislation, including the President, have stated that this has been a long time coming, and animals are long overdue these types of federal protections. As previously mentioned, state’s were responsible for enforcing their own animal cruelty laws, as the only federal regulations before this point were more specifically based on animal fighting rings, and the distribution of videos depicting animal cruelty. Now, with the PACT Act, federal authorities will be able to target and go after animal abusers head on, as the act has granted them federal jurisdiction country-wide. The passing of this act is a win for animal rights activists, and more importantly our countries furry friends who all deserve a loving home, and are now being given a better shot at finding one.

Foie Gras

New York City Bans Foie Gras From All Restaurants And Grocery Stores

New York City will be banning restaurants and grocery stores from selling foie gras beginning in 2022 after a bill was passed this Wednesday, CNN reports. If you don’t know, foie gras is made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been fattened through force-feeding the animal corn with a feeding tube. The force feeding process is known as gavage, and is said to be an inhumane practice, hence the ban. Mayor De Blasio confirmed he would be signing off on the passed bill in response to the massive scrutiny the dish has endured throughout the past few years.

“The bill calls the luxury good a force-fed product, and force-feeding an inhumane practice. As a lifelong advocate for animal rights, I am excited that the Council has voted to pass this historic legislation to ban the sale of these specific force-fed animal products,” Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, the prime sponsor of the bill, said in a statement to CNN.

If an individual is caught still distributing or purchasing the dish, they face a civic penalty charge upwards of $2,000. New York City is not the first American city to ban the dish either. Back in 2012 California passed a bill banning the dish, but that decision was later overturned in 2015. The overturn was in response to complaints from farmers and restaurant workers who profited greatly from the distribution of foie gras, however, their victory was short lived as California reinstated the ban in 2018 after a massive backlash from PETA and other animal rights activists during the overturn. 

 

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Chicago had a similar experience when the city banned foie gras in 2006 and later overturned that decision in 2008, which still remains today. The debate has been decades in the making across the country. In France, where the dish originated, foie gras is officially recognized as French Culture, therefore it will never be banned in the country, the United States however is a different story. 

Foie gras supporters and producers defend the decision to keep the dish for similar reasons. It’s been around for decades, it’s classic french cuisine, and holds a high level of cultural value. Additionally, chefs argue that there’s many more inhumane practices occurring in the meat industry that doesn’t have as much focus as this dish. According to CNN, supporters defend the process of force feeding by claiming that it isn’t abusive like people assume. When ducks migrate, they stuff themselves with food in a similar way as to when they are force fed. They also swallow their food whole due to the fact that their esophagi is very stretchable, so being fed via feeding tube supposedly doesn’t harm the animal; depending on forceful it is. 

 

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Critics typically respond with intensely graphic videos of the process that occurs in slaughter house type settings to make this dish happen, to which chefs reply that those videos represent an extreme minority of the production of foie gras as a whole. Typically, chefs will get their fattened duck or goose livers from local farmers to ensure that the meat is of the best quality. Local farms also normally don’t practice inhumane and abusive processes to acquire meat and dairy products, at least compared to factory grade slaughter houses. 

Critics tend to ignore all the defenses of this dish and that’s their prerogative. Force-feeding can lead to liver damage and puncturing of essential digestive organs for the animal, so the argument will always stand. If anything, this debate is just a small piece of the greater puzzle of sustainable farming and animal cruelty. The reality is, there are plenty of locally produced and humane ways of acquiring meat and any other animal-food by products. These more organic options, however, are typically much more expensive and harder to find, compared to just picking up some meat at the grocery store which came from who knows where. The debate is one that’s been going on for years and years, and will most likely continue to go on. One thing is for sure, however, once 2022 hits, you won’t be getting any genuine french cuisine made from a duck liver in New York City.